The Secret History of MI6: 1909-1949

Keith Jeffery

Keith Jeffery, an Irish historian previously interested in military history, has turned his scrutiny to intelligence agencies. Thanks to being granted total access to the archives of MI6, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, Jeffery illuminates the British government’s creation of the ministry that was the first of its kind and heavily influenced early U.S. intelligence efforts. This well-written official history is crammed with examples and historical connections, including how the MI6 officials tutored the U.S.’s fledgling OSS (the Office of Strategic Services, forerunner to the CIA) throughout WWII, coaching William Donovan, the patriarch of the OSS. But this is not a work for the intelligence dilettante or readers looking for sexy anecdotes. Jeffery’s history is about how most detailed intelligence gathering really works: gathering factual minutiae, hard collation work and thoughtful analysis. This unprecedented work may become a foundation reference in the library on intelligence, and is an excellent starting point for getting educated about the context of our country’s place in the history of the international espionage community.